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John Quinn
20 December 2016 | John Quinn

The Gift Card from Iconic Winemakers

You haven’t got Dad, the boss or your BFF a present yet. He’s got everything; she’s so hard to buy for; it’s the same every year. It’s now less than a week away but don’t panic, I’d lay London to a brick they all enjoy good wine. Why not give them a Gift Card from Iconic Winemakers.

John Quinn
12 December 2016 | John Quinn

University uncorks major winery expansion in South Australia

PLANS for a major expansion of the largest teaching winery in Australia have been released for the first time.

The University of Adelaide wants to more than double the size of its Hickinbotham Roseworthy Wine Science Laboratory at the Waite campus in the southern suburbs of the South Australian capital.

The existing winery has been the centrepiece of a wine hub that has about 150 researchers from the university and co-located partners in wine and grape science – about 70per cent of Australia’s total research capability – since it was built in 1996. About half of the students in the winemaking courses there are typically from outside of Australia.

Professor of Oenology and Director of the ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production Vladimir Jiranek said the training and research winery was arguably the best facility of its kind in the world when it opened two decades ago.

“At that time it was servicing 20 students and a six-tonne vintage,” he said.

“Now we have close to 100 students using the winery each year and a vintage of about 120 tonnes. The demands on our winery are intense and the opportunities to develop new approaches and technologies around all aspects of winemaking require an expanded and more sophisticated facility.

“The University of Adelaide is helping the industry meet future challenges and we need to build a winery to match.”

The plans, roughly priced at between $22 to $28 million, include more than doubling the existing floor space and adding a second level. The new winery would include expanded chemistry labs, separate teaching and research areas and a small distillery and brewery.

Prof Jiranek said the university would look for partners such as the co-located Australian Wine Research Institute.

“This is something that we probably needed five years ago but the reality is that it is quite an expensive undertaking,” he said.

“If it was built in five years I’d be very happy.”

Prof Jiranek said once the plans had been finalised, detailed drawings would be developed and a fundraising committee formed to raise capital from within the university and externally.

“We’ve worked with an engineer who has been involved in building quite a few wineries and winery extensions in industry so we’ve gone with them to make sure that what we have in mind is achievable,” he said.

“The university won’t be able to fund the whole thing so we’ll be looking for some partners and to the industry for support.

“This is an important facility where the future industry practitioners are trained so in the interests of industry ensuring they get the best graduates then it would be great if they were able to support the facility.”

AWRI Managing Director Dan Johnson supported the winery revamp, which would also benefit the 120 staff at his Waite Campus-based organisation.

He said an expanded facility would cater for the student demand, create separate spaces to allow teaching and research to be done simultaneously and allow the infrastructure to reflect the quality of the training and research that is done

The University of Adelaide also recently launched a new wine label for some of the 400 different wines from sparkling whites through to fortified wines and liqueurs it makes.

Professor Jiranek said the wine produced at the Waite campus was of a high quality and had been a well-kept secret even within the university community.

He said the wine would likely be served at university functions and given as gifts.

“So we are very keen for our colleagues across the other campuses of the university to know that this is here and we have the ability to make great wines,” Prof Jiranek said.

“Why should we be spending money on buying wines from outside when we can showcase these?

“The label we had used in the past served us very well but it was time to modernise and celebrate the fact that this is a highly successful program, we intend on being here for the long run and we’ve got big plans for the future.”

South Australia is consistently responsible for almost 50 per cent of Australia’s annual production

There are 18 wine regions in South Australia, including the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, Adelaide Hills, Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, Limestone Coast and Riverland.

Time Posted: 12/12/2016 at 8:49 AM Permalink to University uncorks major winery expansion in South Australia Permalink Comments for University uncorks major winery expansion in South Australia Comments (1)
John Quinn
9 December 2016 | John Quinn

Chair made of corks

That’s where all the corks have gone.

Time Posted: 09/12/2016 at 8:44 AM Permalink to Chair made of corks Permalink Comments for Chair made of corks Comments (5)
John Quinn
30 November 2016 | John Quinn

James Halliday’s 2016 Top 100 recognises Iconic Winemakers.


Thomas Wines 5 not out

Andrew Thomas is 5 not out, and we’re not talking cricket. In Halliday’s 2016 Top 100 Thommo’s Braemore Semillon made the list for the fifth year running, this time with the 2016 vintage. Unprecedented, Thomas Wines is the only winery in the industry to achieve such recognition. The 2016 Braemore Semillon has been selected in the ‘ Best Whites over $20’ category from a total 1435 wines that were submitted. In Halliday’s tasting notes he commented ‘ Andrew Thomas is one of the best practitioners of the fine art of coaxing young Semillon  to grab attention without compromising a 15+ year lifespan. Lime, lemon zest, grass and lemongrass all join hands, balance and length evidence of its extreme quality. Drink to 2033, 96 points.’

With summer on the doorstep, the seafood fresh, there is no better time to enjoy a Semillon. Oh, and the cricket’s on and Thommo has plenty more runs left in him.


Hewitson’ 96 points

As an old Rugby Coach after a big win I’d often get asked by a satisfied player ‘what are we doing this week Coach’? Deadpan I’d say ‘we’re gunna get better than last week’.

Last year Dean Hewitson’s  2013 Miss Harry blend scored an amazing 95 points from James Halliday. Ever the perfectionist Dean wanted more from the vineyard to winery to bottle. Describing the 96 points he received this year for the 2014 vintage Dean said ‘I have no doubt this is one of the finest Miss Harry’s I’ve made’. And Halliday agreed……..’A blend of Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvedre, Carignan and Cinsault this is flush with glorious red, blue and purple fruits, the components picked with unerring accuracy. Hewitson weaves some of the magic of the Rhone Valley’s iconic Chateau Rayas, the ultimate compliment. 96 points, $25.  However why not buy now from Iconic Winemakers for $22.50.

John Quinn
17 November 2016 | John Quinn

Corporate Winetasting Tasting Event

On a recent Sunday afternoon in Drummoyne we had the pleasure of holding a corporate tasting for Concept Cosmetic Medicine. Company principal Helen Hamilton purchased the event as an auction item at a school fundraiser. Helen invited clients, staff and friends and the feedback has been fantastic. I was really impressed at the wine knowledge in the room and they were impressed the tasting was informative, educative but in a friendly easy to understand format. Robert Gilmour thought the highlight was the Matt Harrop chardonnay and also said Rollo Crittenden’s Pinot was the best he’d tasted from Mornington. Another guest Jeff Deviesseuv, feverishly taking notes all afternoon wants to do a similar event for his real estate clients.

John Quinn
16 November 2016 | John Quinn

Damian North

Photo from the vineyard Damian is talking about, superb red soil.

Damian North is a newcomer to Iconic Winemakers and it was always my intention to introduce him in this newsletter. And to announce his arrival he thought he’d do so with a gold medal. Journey Wines 2015 Yarra Valley Pinot Noir has taken out a gold medal at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show. Damian’s  wine beat a host of highly credentialed wines in the class that recognises Pinot Noir from 2015 or younger.

When I first joined the industry in the 1980’s I don’t think we had a definitive Aussie Pinot Noir style. There were Burgundian styles from traditional winemakers and cordial like styles from artesian producers trying to make a statement. Thankfully, by design or otherwise, certain regions whose terroir suited the grape took hold and  championed the variety and Australian Pinot took shape. Those regions were the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and the ever emerging Tasmania. Damian’s from the Yarra and shares why he thinks it’s ideal for Pinot Noir;

"For me the factor that defines Pinot Noir from the Upper Yarra Valley is the deep red volcanic soil found in that part of the Valley. Obviously most of the sites are cooler than the Valley floor with an extra 150m or so of elevation – but as soon as you have Pinot planted on the red soil type you see lighter colour and structure in the wines – but amazing perfume and aromatics. 

Of the four Yarra Pinot Noir’s that won gold medals at the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards this year – considered by many to be the most prestigious Pinot class in the country – all were off red-soil sites in the Upper Yarra."

Damian North

John Quinn
15 November 2016 | John Quinn

Winners are grinners

The Bushing Festival’s Grenache Trophy, yeah Nick thinks it looks like a boogie board too.

Congratulations to Nick Haselgrove and a new addition to our winemakers Damian North. Both have achieved great success at their recent wine shows. Read on;

Nick Haselgrove’s 2013 The Old Faithful Grenache has taken out the ‘2016 McLaren Vale Wine Show Best 2 years and Older Grenache’ Trophy. Try saying that after your 3rd glass. The image of the trophy is above, it looks like a boogey board? I love the fact Nick is somewhat of an old timer when it comes to winemaking. This  Grenache is a typically full bodied style from McLaren Vale, has been matured in French oak for 40 months and bottled under a traditional cork closure. Nick uses the DIAM cork. When asked about the DIAM cork Nick told me ‘Diam is a technical cork – ground up then pressure formed once ALL taints are removed by supercritical CO2. It is very consistent in its performance criteria – not just TCA but O2 transmission rates & leakage’.

Grenache is not new to McLaren Vale in fact a lot of the locals pride themselves in their Grenache offerings. Nick offers some thoughts of his 2013 trophy winner “McLaren Vale has a wonderful legacy of the olden day fortified era – with the result a patchwork of old bush vines scattered around the district in unique . Old and gnarly, these vineyards produce, in the right places, a complex amalgam of flavours and characters that are unique to the region. Low yielding and mostly unirrigated then allowed to work for their fruit we end up with a distinct purity of flavour that makes any winemaker excited about the future of the grape. McLaren Vale has captured this spirit and The Old Faithful is capturing it into a bottle with all the fun and history of the region.

Enjoy the 2013 Northern Exposure as it is a great year and shows its place and the ability of the wine to age with careful cellaring.”

To celebrate Nick has offered an introductory offer of buy 5 get 6 bottles. Just click ‘buy now’ and the price will be calculated automatically.

John Quinn
14 November 2016 | John Quinn

Winemaker of the Month - Sorby Adams

A young Sorby collecting a trophy from his Yalumba days with The Governor-General of Australia, Bill Hayden

I must admit I don’t know Simon that well but every time we  email or chat it’s like I’ve known him for ages. It just feels comfortable. As a marketer I pride myself on having a great affiliation with winemakers, love their chat and am in awe of their craft. I asked Sorb to share a few things with us.

Q. Not everyone in your family is known as a Sorby Adams, are you the black sheep? 
A. We are all “Sorby Adams” – I was always called “Sorb” at school and it has stuck since then.

Q. Where did Sorby come from?
A. A Sorby married an Adams about 200 years ago and it’s been our family name ever since. I actually just changed my surname from Adams to Sorby Adams 12 months ago!

Q. Was it obvious to Mum and Dad that you’d end up a winemaker?
A. I think when I was caught pinching the sherry from the cupboard when I was 11 they both knew!!

Q. The biggest influence in your career? 
A. Brain Walsh – my boss at Yalumba. He started at Yalumba just after I took over the red wine portfolio and he encouraged me to go with my gut feel. We had a beautiful journey the next 12 years and resurrected Yalumba’s red wine reputation. Created Menzies, Octavius and The Reserve as well as Signature.

Q. Great sub-brands in the industry still today, were they driven by winemaking and/or marketing, surely they couldn’t have been accountant’s wines? 
A. Menzies was market driven as Yalumba had no Coonawarra product. I started it in 87 and the fruit was bought from growers and then Yalumba purchased vineyards in Coonawarra.
Octavius and Reserve were very much winemaker wines. I started Octavius in 88 with a Coonawarra Cab!! Second release from 90 was Barossa Shiraz and has remained that way since. The oak is unique and back then it was 8 year air dried American and made at the Cooperage at Yalumba. We shifted the cooperage in 88 from the old site and discovered a pallet of timber that was originally bought as repair wood for American oak puncheons. Anyway it was never used and I said to Andy Broad (the cooper) to make small barrels with it and we probably would use them for port maturation. Anyway he was firing the barrels and he called me and said ‘Sorb these smell weird’ so I had a look and said ‘holy shit mate that is so sweet’ and then I decided to put what was the best batch of red from 88 into those barrels….. the rest is history!!

The Reserve I started in 90 and it was literally the best 15 barrels of Signature. It was made in 90,92 96 and 98 whilst I was still there.

I don’t know how many trophies and gongs these wines won but they did put Yalumba reds back on the radar of the punters.

Q. Was Yalumba in a sense a big family winemaker rather than a corporate entity?
A. Yalumba prides itself on ‘Family’ and it was a pleasure to work there for 20 years. I was lucky to be given the job of red winemaker when I was 25 and I busted my freckle to put some TLC back into what was a pretty fucked portfolio of reds.

Q. The most memorable, not necessarily best, wine you’ve made?

A. The most memorable wine was 87 Galway Hermitage. It was about to be deleted as the sales were plummeting but then in 89 it won a trophy in Canberra and sales went through the roof. Marketing gave me a bollocking coz they said I had stuffed up all their plans!!

Q. I was at Penfolds at the time  and you stuffed our marketing plans too.
A. Good.

Q. You’re writing a ‘Work In Progress/ Things To Do’ paper, what’s at the top of the list?
A. Go camping with Jill.

Q. What made you choose the Reverend Canon from your portfolio for Iconic Winemakers?
A. I chose a wine that has some real history in our family. “Uncle Keith – The Reverend Canon Sorby Adams AM” was a legend of a man both as a Minister and Headmaster during his life. He was our Grandfather’s brother.

Q. You seem direct, to the point but a sense of humour as well?
A. Yep

John Quinn
13 November 2016 | John Quinn

Winemakers introduce a second wine

Campbell Mattinson quote and bottle

It was always our intention that over time, and for good reason, individual winemakers would introduce a second wine to their profile. Recently Nick Haselgrove and Troy Kalleske have done just that. Nick’s second wine is the trophy winning 2013 Grenache, which we highlighted above. 

Troy has added his 2015 Greenock Single Vineyard Shiraz. Whenever I do a tasting it’s fair to say one of our most sort after wines is Troy’s Eduard Shiraz, and with good reason but at $90 a bottle not everyone can splash out. Hence Troy has shared with us the Greenock Shiraz which at $40 a bottle is superb value. In fact well regarded wine scribe Campbell Mattinson said if it had a Penfolds label on it  the price would be 3 fold; considering Troy being an old Penfolds boy that comment doesn’t surprise.  See above Campbell’s review.

John Quinn
1 November 2016 | John Quinn

China now number one export market for Australian wine

Exports of Australian wine to China grew by 51 per cent in the 12 months to 30 September 2016, pushing it to the number one market by value for the first time.

The value of exports to China is now $474m and the strong growth in the region has been attributed to the benefits of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement as well as the growing Chinese middle class’ increased interest in wine. The average consumption frequency of imported wine and the number of imported wine drinkers are both increasing in China.

Negociants International Executive Director, Adam O’Neill said: "The demand for our premium wines in China shows no sign of abating and it is particularly pleasing to see high levels of engagement from key trade and media. The rapidly maturing palate of consumers and the ability to reach them through online platforms such as TMall has us confident that this growth will continue, particularly at higher price points.

"In addition to this, our newly formed partnership with ASC Fine Wines and Yalumba allows us to continue building a sustainable trade footprint with sommeliers and fine wine retailers and focus our efforts on education and brand awareness in conjunction with Wine Australia’s key programs.

"It’s certainly an exciting time for the Australian category."

Across the region, Hong Kong exports grew in value by 7 per cent to $126 million and recorded the highest average value for exports at $13.53 per litre. Exports were also up in Singapore by 9 per cent to $62 million, Malaysia by 24 per cent to $55 million, Taiwan by 23 per cent to $19 million and South Korea by 42 per cent to $14 million. Exports to Japan saw a small decline of 0.3 per cent to $45 million, due to a decline in bulk wine exports.

Exports to the United States continued to grow, but at a much slower rate, with value up four per cent to $448m.

In April TheShout reported that the combined China and Hong Kong market was worth more than the US, with Wine Australia’s General Manager of Marketing, Stuart Barclay, saying: “The Chinese market is still very strong, and when you combine this with the Hong Kong market it is worth over $500 million. The growth is coming from across China at lots of different price points, including very strong growth for sales above $10," Barclay said.

“By comparison, the US market is one of our toughest markets. This used to be a $1 billion market and we are now doing around $440 million.”

The growth of Australian wine in China, is highlighted by the fact that just a decade ago, Australian wine exports to China were valued at $27m.